This school year has been challenging for my twelve year old daughter. A chronic back injury, has meant she has missed more than 32 days of school since September. We never know when she will be flat on her back for sometimes up to a week, or what will cause her back to spasm. As I write this, she put her back out two days ago, simply walking down the hall at school.
Needless, to say, I am stressed to the max about her health, and the impact this is going to have on her long term. The unpredictable nature of this injury also adds extra stress to our family routines, which are becoming increasingly hard to maintain. Surprisingly though, the one thing I am not worried about is her education.
Our son graduated from St. Peter’s High School and our oldest daughter has been there for three years now. Our experience, like most parents I suspect, has been until now at an arm’s length. We attend a few events, sign them up for clubs, ensure they are happy but for the most part, we trust in the education, the values and the people at the school we’ve chosen.
Once it became clear that her back was going to be an ongoing issue, I called the Vice-Principal at her school and explained our situation. My call was met with complete empathy and understanding. The Vice-Principal spoke to each of her teachers and explained the situation. Since that time each of our daughter’s teachers have worked hard to ensure she gets caught up when she returns to school and does not fall behind.
I always knew that the values of fairness, compassion, and respect were cornerstones of a Catholic education—I attended Catholic school myself for 12 years. Knowing it and seeing it in action though is entirely different. This year we have seen these values modelled for my daughter by the teachers at St. Peter’s and that speaks volumes to me.
Instead of feeling left out, our daughter has felt nothing but support and understanding from her teachers. Her gym teacher has cheerfully provided her with other skill-building tasks, such as scoring of games, and assessing fitness. Her math teacher has helped ensure she stays up to speed, and thankfully she was able to write the Gauss Math Test for Grade 7. She is still achieving high grades in Science and French and English.
On the surface it might seem that our daughter is simply getting her education, but what she’s really getting are lessons for life. The teachers and staff at St. Peter’s are showing through their actions what is means to take care of someone who is struggling to keep up. Having everyone on the team support her has meant that what could easily have been a failed year, has brought success despite the challenges.
The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) strives to teach all subjects through a value-based lens. How that translates to the classroom will vary, but with our daughter, respect is shown but making her feel welcome in a class she can’t participate with her peers in, fairness is modelled by ensuring she doesn’t fall behind and compassion is shown by all of her teachers.
To find out more about the lessons for life taught and modelled at Ontario English Catholic Schools, and why we’ve sent all three of our children to St. Peter’s visit CatholicTeacher.ca/LessonsForLife.